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Only God Forgives (2013)
Amazing dark film.
This film is as close to perfect as any film is likely to get. It features characters that are varying degrees of horrible and just. The setting is one of pervasive violence and constant danger. But in this horrific setting the theme is protection and justice. Perfectly shot, edited and acted. It unfolds quickly while being quiet and menacing with punctuations of intense violence and fear. I really do not wish to say too much. If you liked the Pusher films or Drive then you know what this director brings to the table. Here he is working with a local production. With the success of Drive and the lowish budget of this film he has both the freedom of the first Pusher film mixed with growing confidence and skill. Highly recommended if you can stand the harsh emotional depths and turmoil it will take you through.
The Quantum Activist (2009)
This is NOT fringe science
It is about a man and how he came to an idea that solves a major paradox of quantum physics. I can see how some would dismiss it because of some of the terms used but in context and with a sharp mind you will find that it fits with modern physics. If you can connect the various terms that different physicists use and imagine the underlying nature of what they are all trying to describe I would say that the man in this documentary adds to that picture using his background as a physics professor and scientist and using the language of his own cultural perspective.
I appreciate different perspectives on the same subject and this film has a great idea presented in an interesting fashion with plenty of context and a good explanation. I wouldn't use it as a sole source of information on the subject of physics but then there are no such sources to be found. One simply has to search far and wide according to your own capabilities and ways of thinking.
Paper Heart (2009)
Beautiful, poignant moments.
If this was all made up and acted then it was brilliant, if it was 98% true with the prodding of a film crew, then it was still brilliant.
On the face of it this is a documentary about Charlyne Yi and her friend Nick the filmmaker going on a road trip to learn about love.
The only thing forced seemed to be the director who is acted by Jake M. Johnson. Everyone else "plays" themselves. What he does and says is consistent with the premise as presented. It is understandable that he would put his friends who happen to be more famous into this movie to get it noticed. Plus all those more famous people she runs into are also warm, funny and disarming guys. It makes sense that he as her friend would want her to meet these people since he obviously cares a great deal for her and he can feel that she is not cold, merely reserved and stubborn. Every moment between the people we see on screen seem to be genuine with Yi being a bit of an eccentric person but obviously warm and intelligent.
I can understand the production company prodding the director and the director wanting to do things for his own vision which would explain some of the more forced moments with him on-screen. It can sometimes feel like him and Cera are friends who probably spoke to each other at some point in the days in-between the segments we see. I feel that there is an emotionally logical reason for all the moments in the film.
Cera often plays awkward people but I have never seen him so actually nervous as he is in some moments with Yi when they are starting to get to know each other better. Likewise his goofy and relaxed moments come out when it makes sense in their growing friendship.
Yi is similarly natural as someone who appears to be very reserved and who is revolting against the female stereotypes she saw growing up. She is visibly upset when she speaks of the romantic notion as being part of the female stereotype. Tellingly her family and friends all say she is loving but would never admit to knowing love. This is consistent with someone who is intelligent and sees how hard the female stereotype gets pushed at her and everyone else and has a strong reaction to that. She speaks to different people on a road trip documentary which has various effects on her which can be very telling and always natural to who she seems to be. She starts to be more open about her feelings as she gets to know Cera better. And what happens between them makes perfect sense as far as what we can glean.
There are so many beautiful and poignant moments on screen amongst some nervous people in the somewhat forced situation a documentary entails.
I am obviously leaning towards this being almost completely real and I find it very natural and consistent throughout. If it was made up, these people are all amazing. I really feel that there are emotionally logical reasons that could explain what we see in this film.
Semana Santa (2002)
Solid Murder Mystery
The only thing special about this film may be the very human everyday interactions between the characters in this film. An important scene might have a little glance or aside that only tells of the place and the people but have no real impact on the story. Mia Sorvino along with the other actors and even the walk-on extras just feel real and utterly regular in the skins that they occupy on screen. 99% of movies do not succeed as well as this one when it comes to that pervasive "REALITY" feeling.
Yes the pacing could have been better. Yes you might be lost if you don't pay attention to each plot revelation. Yes you might not be surprised at all by how the story turns out. But this is a beautiful film in its grounded feeling, the acting, and the little things outside of the main focus which give life to the world and its characters.
Not original at all but great acting and good direction makes for a hidden gem in my opinion.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
More exhausting but worth it!
The Matrix was a very conventional film: strong on story, jokes, and great action. Reloaded focused less on story and more on film as art to influence your brain directly through moving light and sound. Revolutions has more storytelling than Reloaded, more action than either the first two(though not as immediately satisfying) and definitely had the biggest impact on my brain of the three. While I watched it I was amazed many times and amused few times but didn't ever realize what an impact it had on my consciousness until I was leaving the theatre, very sneaky!
The action scenes are long and dense which can be a bit exhausting making it harder to sit through the necessary quieter scenes of storytelling. This film also seemed a bit more hokey than the previous two matrix films but considering the mind-expansion impact it had I must say that it must have been exactly as planned.
I thought Reloaded, which was close to perfection, was the best in the trilogy but this film succeeds in its own way. Pay attention to the whole image the whole time and pay attention to how you feel when leaving the theatre and try to keep that slightly enlightened feeling going for it will serve you well.
PS. no, I have not been on any drugs when seeing ANY of the matrix films, I just pay attention to the films and my feelings! They DO raise your consciousness - The Matrix: not so much (gets you used to it) ;Reloaded: most noticeable and emotional ; Revolutions: you'll be too busy to notice it while the film is playing but very noticeable afterwords.
PPS. If you relax and go with the experience of these films and notice feeling different afterwords then remember how you feel and know that you can feel like that whenever you remember that feeling and can hold on to it. Remember there is no try, only do or do not! 9-)
The DVD cover made out like this 1994 film was not released before because of its shocking content. Shockingly bad maybe. There are few horror films that are less shocking than this lame-in-all-ways film. More than half this film is filler and all of it is bad.
This is Ed Wood quality film making (but probably bigger budget) that is trying to be taken serious. Avoid at all cost. Avoid these film-makers at all cost.
USA DVD released 2003. (1 out of 10)
This is a film that is hilarious in a peter sellers mixed with Marx Brothers kind of 'cartoonish' slightly outrageous way (but realistic in a sense, its Spielberg after all). I did not know people rated this movie so low since it is so similar to "Raiders of the Lost Arc" in its style of humor. I have enjoyed this film many times as well as many of Spielberg's other films and I think this film is just as good in its own silly and good-humored way.
(8/10)VHS and TV years ago, DVD recently.
Unique and strong
Very Strong acting, directing and script makes for one of my favorite films.
An unlikely couple fall in love in this magical, funny, romantic, and sometimes violent film. Its heart is close to "Lola Rennt" or "True Romance" in a slightly funnier wrapping.
( 9 out of 10 ) -Karl
Red Dragon (2002)
See Manhunter instead
This film is so incredibly hackneyed it is not even funny. No good performances, not a second of suspense or intrigue. Just people going through the motions. Manhunter by Michael Mann is a much better film and is 99% identical plot-wise to this piece of hollywood garbage. The guy who played Hannibal Lecter and the actor who played the "tooth fairy" are both scarier in Manhunter than the actors playing the same parts in Red Dragon.
Really this film would not get a good grade as a student film since it fails miserably in every facet of film-making except maybe for the interesting story (which is completely wasted here).
Bad acting, no rhythm, poor cinematography, interesting story = 3 out of 10
Another Ang Lee work of art.
This film works.
Ang Lee makes films that flow and feel alive and this film is no exception. There is so much beauty, mystery, and emotion throughout this film that one cannot help but to feel awe and humbled.
The story is a bit thinner than previous Ang Lee films but if you go see The Hulk expecting a mere comic book movie you might be disappointed. There is much sadness and tragedy in this film and most of it is too dark for small kids (there was one child or another crying throughout 90% of this movie). That is not to say it is not an exciting film. I just feel that it is more exciting as a unique vision in film-making rather than just action for the sake of a thrill-ride type excitement.
Go see this film if you want to see an Ang Lee film. Skip it if you are looking for just another comic book turned into the latest summer blockbuster action/comedy.
And yes the hulk looks real about 98% of the time, he has emotions and resemble a larger version of the actor all of the time.
(8 out of 10) -Karl